Iraq War Veteran Sentenced For Raising Ducks
A Coshocton County Iraq veteran is fighting to keep pet ducks he says help him with his post traumatic stress disorder.
Darin Welker received a citation in June for having farm animals within the village limits of West Lafayette.
He was found guilty Wednesday in court and paid $172 in fines and court costs.
Welker says his fight is just beginning.
"I'm gonna take it to the very end and push it as far as it can be pushed," Welker said.
Welker originally had 14 ducks but says he has given eight of them away over the past few weeks.
He tells 10TV he needs to hang onto his remaining six because they provide emotional support.
"There's been a lot less depression," he said. "There's been less anti-depression medication since I got them."
Welker's wife, Shirley Wagner, says she notices a huge difference when he is around them.
"He can come out if he's having real bad day and pick them up, talk to them, bare his soul to them and they're not going to tell a soul," she said.
That opportunity for emotional therapy is why the couple is so upset their village issued Welker a citation in early summer.
"(Police said) you need to get rid of them, and I said, no. I'm not," Welker said.
After the citation was issued, West Lafayette council members passed a new ordinance in September that permits therapy animals.
Mayor Jack Patterson says they came up with it with Welker in mind.
"We worked on this ordinance for weeks and weeks and weeks and we came up with something we think is very fair to anybody that had PTSD or any other problems that required therapy animals," Patterson said.
Patterson says under the new ordinance, Welker would be allowed to keep two of his ducks.
"As long as they're less than 20 pounds each, he can have two therapy animals of whatever he wants and that's the ordinance and he knows that," Patterson said. "We don't know why things are continuing like they have been."
But Welker and his wife argue the ducks are not therapy animals such as guide dogs. They claim the ducks are emotional support animals.
"There is a difference between the two," Wagner said.
With the difference in terms, Welker thinks he'll find a way to keep not just two, but all six of his web-footed friends.
He says there is a segment of the federal Fair Housing Act that deals with emotional support animals and thinks that might be his best shot to keep the ducks.
"I'm going to fight it until there's nothing left to fight," Welker said.